Take the Fire out of a Red Ant

Red Ants


Red ants are pesky creatures often red-brown or black and are just a ¼ inch long.  They thrive in the southern United States and build nests of dirt in the grass or near your shrubs and trees. When fire ants get disturbed they get extremely aggressive.  It is believed some nests contain up to 200,000 crawlers. Inside the structures they are rapidly breeding to expand their population.  The time from egg to adult averages just 30 days. Workers live up to 180 days and queens live from two to six years.  If you have one nest in your yard there are likely many others.


Once you invade their space they quickly swarm and vigorously bite.  One ant can bite multiple times and often several will have bitten you before you even know you have crossed their path. The ant bites by attaching itself to the skin with its jaws.  The head pivots and it injects venom from its belly in a circular pattern several times.  The venom has been reported to contain poison that affects the nervous system.

Many people immediately try and get a water hose to drown them but the ants are resistant to this.  They can form a nest on water and float it to a dry location to rebuild.  The water will temporarily slow them down for you to get away.


Fire Ant picture

Signs that you have been bitten by a red ant include an initial intense pinching or burning pain.  Next comes large red swollen areas with a white blister in the middle.  This blister will form a head with white pus that may ooze for days and resemble a pimple.  The skin will be painful, inflamed and be very itchy.   If you are experiencing symptoms after the ant bite that are more severe you should seek immediate medical care.  They severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, swallowing, nausea and dizziness.


Some immediate home remedies after a red ant attack include.

  • Lessen the spread of the venom. Wash the infected area with soap and water.  Some believe it helps to gently massage the infected area.
  • Address swelling and pain. Apply cold compress to reduce the swelling.
  • Relieve itching. Take over the counter antihistamines like Claritin or Allegra to help with the itch. Hydrocortisone cream can also be applied to the infected area every 4-6 hours or as indicated.
  • Prevent infection. Apply antibiotic ointment to any stings that have opened up by scratching.


Bites will lessen in severity after a few days and will completely go away in about a week but can last up to 10 days.  If you were bitten in your backyard the next step is to get rid of the colonies.  Calling a pest control service is the best option but you can also do it yourself.   If you are going to go out again in your yard it is best to take some preventative measures.

  • Protect yourself.  Cover yourself with socks, boots and long pants
  • Be vigilant.  Be mindful and look out for these 12-18-inch-high dirt mounds in the grass and near bushes and trees. Do not stomp on the hill.
  • Utilize insect repellents.


Ant bite picture

Many red ant bites will resolve over time. However, when home remedies fail, most will go see a doctor. At BestCare Now we have physicians on staff 7 days a week with evening hours who can help identify your insect bite and the best path to get you back to yourself.  Topical creams, corticosteroids are just some of the medical options that will be considered to help address the insect bite. You don’t have to suffer.  Come visit BestCare Now urgent care today at 500 Nathan Dean Blvd in Dallas GA.  We look forward to being there for you and your family when you need it most.


Written by Chrystie Leonard, Managing Partner and Co-owner of BestCare Now urgent care.